This week saw the Senate Estimates Committee meet to question the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a twice-yearly exercise for the national broadcaster. The ABC′s Managing Director Russell Balding in what was seen by Senators as a snub, "declined" to be present, sending instead the ABC′s Acting Director of Strategy and Communications Murray Green. Balding added insult to injury by not informing the Senate of any reason for his absence. He apparently thought that he was important enough to absent himself without giving a reason.
Murray Green told the Senate Committee: "Mr Balding is his own decision maker. He is not here, and that is all I have to say."
Click to HEAR Mr Green′s tone of voice.
In the past, the Senate noted, Balding has always represented the ABC at the hearings. Senators on both sides of the House expressed their dismay and sought an explanation from the ABC.
As readers of this site will be aware, Senator Santo Santoro (Lib, Qld) has been on the committee since the days when Richard Alston was Minister for Communications. He has always given the ABC a thorough scrutiny over inconsistent application of its Editorial Policy and the implementation of its editorial guidelines.
Newly elected Senator Michael Ronaldson (Lib, Vic) who is a member of the Senate Committee said after the hearing:
"There was no legitimate reason given for Mr Balding′s non-attendance. It treated the Australian taxpayer and the Senate′s processes with contempt. It rather begs the question of what the ABC has to hide".
We have placed a link to an excerpt of the Hansard transcript as well as the full transcript of the sitting. I urge you to read the dialog. It is very clear from some of the responses of ABC executive Murray Green that the ABC has decided to be non-cooperative with the Senate.
Since this snubbing of the Senate by the ABC has not been well covered by the mainstream media it is up to the "blogosphere" to publicise the matter. We at ICJS urge you to send this material to as many people as you know, and to put up your comments. Senators DO read this page!